As I alluded to in my last post, our flight out of Tambura was not 100% certain. The airstrip is so rarely used in Tambura that WFP (humanitarian airline that is pretty much the sole provider of air transport to much of South Sudan) requires you to assure a fire brigade will block off the animal, foot, and vehicle traffic so that the plane can land. We tried to confirm with our logisitics coordinator in Juba but he’d disappeared.
Eventually though, we managed to confirm the flight was scheduled to take off at 9:10am. Unfortunately, there were heavy storms when we woke up and the plane was bound to be delayed. As the day went on, and we kept checking in for periodic updates with WFP, we started hearing things about the plane coming from Rumbek instead of Juba, or going to Rumbek to drop off/pick people up… all sorts of things. 9:10am turned into 12:00pm, turned into 1:40pm, turned into 2:20pm, turned into 3:00. Finally at 3:30 we heard the airplane landing and went to the airstrip.
The pilots gave us our tickets. Tambura – Rumbek.
When we told them we were scheduled to go to Juba today, not Rumbek, they pretty much laughed and said that we’d be stuck in Rumbek overnight and could catch out the flight to Juba in the morning. Having no real choice, we got on the plane and took off for Rumbek.
I should probably explain that flying after dark here isn’t really an option since there are no lights at the airport in Juba. You can’t even medevac someone out at night. So our detour to Rumbek (which would get us there a little after 5pm) meant that we had no chance to make it to Juba by 6pm-ish before it started getting dark.
Plus apparently we would have had to fly through some pretty intense storms to get to Juba.
At least I got to cross another State in South Sudan off my list. Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Lakes. Just seven more left.
On top of that, the rooms at the hotel in Rumbek we stayed at were lush in comparison to the week in the field we’d just had.
Although I do have to say that Tambura had a better shower. No joke, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s the nicest shower I’ve taken since being here – great pressure, and the water gets almost boiling during the day thanks to the sun.
After our sojourn overnight in Rumbek, we caught the morning flight to Juba. Both our Tambura and Rumbek planes were a little bigger than the 8-seater we took last week, and were 15-seaters. I laughed though when I realized the 4 of us were the only ones on the flight to Juba.
My own personal jet. I’m such a celebrity